“The writer Ian McEwan has said that novelists ‘prowl along the borders between the invented and the actual’. The same could be said for the painter Christopher McVinish.
McVinish hunts for fragments of urban life out of which he conjures another reality. While the genre of Contemporary Realism may sometimes distance the viewer with a cool lucidity, McVinish’s work is inclusive, inviting us to speculate about the ambiguous situations he presents, at the same time reminding us of aspects of everyday life taken for granted. In doing so, he showcases the commonplace as special and suffuced with potential.
Characteristic of these works is a certain stillness. These are elegant works even while they deal with the grit of our urban environment. His paintings can imply a vague feeling of disquiet, occasionally even a sense of loss – yet never a loss of hope. McVinish peoples his paintings with survivors, thinkers and observers. The suggestion of a separate reflective interior life appears to be as much the painter’s intention as any relationship to ‘place’. A fascination with weather also helps establish the mood of a work, and this often demands to be read as metaphor for his protagonists’ thoughts. Perhaps the most arresting feature common to these works is that time feels more than simply suspended – it’s as if a fleeting abstract moment is continuing, like a musical note sustained.
Ideas and motifs are allowed to hover (sometimes for years) before their moment of coalescence seems ‘right’. McVinish’s painting methodology involves numerous time- consuming applications of paint and glazes which result not only in a substantial illusion of depth but appear to achieve the feat of painting air itself: a palpable volume of space is created around things in the picture plane.
Intriguingly oblique, these are visual stories which linger in the mind and show us contemporary life as a kind of half-remembered dream.”